WASHINGTON — The conference sold out online first.

Then they opened a few more spots, which filled immediately.

On conference day, an additional handful of people walked in without registrations, because they just had to be there.

Demand was that great for the Grow by FarmHer Conference held on Monday, March 18, at the National 4-H Conference center just outside of Washington, D.C.

FarmHer, the group that focuses on shining a light on women in agriculture, has bloomed in the farming community over the past six years with their website, apparel line, podcast, blog and TV show on RFD-TV, and now they have also launched an event series.

The series, called Grow by FarmHer, focuses on nurturing the personal and professional paths of young women in agriculture, especially those in the age range of 16-23 years old, which is prime decision-making time for many high schoolers, college students and young professionals.

FarmHer says their Grow events “inspire, educate and empower young ladies who are excited about their future in agriculture. Attendees have the opportunity to connect with peers, listen to dynamic speakers and meet industry leaders.”

There have been over a dozen Grow events already held, with several more on the schedule for this year.

While each event features different speakers, all the agendas focus on the same common themes for attendees:

• Meet peers with the same passion and drive as you.

• Begin a journey that allows you to give life to your dreams.

• Gain skills that will help you land your dream career.

• Network with industry leaders and learn from their paths to success.

• Walk away with the feeling of excitement and an attitude to take on the world.

A new perk for attendees is that now Grow event registration is free to all FFA students and their advisers thanks to FarmHer’s sponsors, Nationwide Insurance and Corteva.

FFA students from both Maryland and Delaware took advantage of this opportunity, with over 50 of them attending in full blue-jacket regalia, and some getting up as early as 3 a.m. to make it to D.C. in time for the start of the conference.

“This event was such an amazing experience for me. I have always been a person with a plan, and as a soon-to-be-graduating senior, I don’t quite have the perfect plan yet,” said Gabrielle Corey, a Masters student at the University of Maryland studying education, with a goal to be an agricultural educator. “This event showed me that it’s okay to not have everything in place, but to be seeking the support of others. The authenticity of the women and inspiration they provided were exactly what I needed.”

The day began with the FarmHer inspirational video, followed by opening remarks from Marji Guyler-Alaniz, the FarmHer founder, on her story and how FarmHer has become not just a small business, but a movement. Speakers and panels followed featuring a diverse set of women in the agricultural industry, including farmers, agribusinesses CEOs, ag lawyers, and more.

University of Maryland Institute of Applied Agriculture student Becky Jones said, “We heard a lot from inspirational women who aren’t necessarily in the typical farming role but still play a vital role in the industry. They spoke heavily of trusting your instinct, accepting failure and overcoming uncertainty and fear. I especially loved the candid nature of the conference, it gave me the confidence to say ‘you know, I can do this and I’m not alone.’ Of all the conferences I’ve attended, this one had a unique inspirational and authentic spark to it. I’ve met a new tribe I’m excited to be a part of.”

For more information about FarmHer, visit www.farmher.com

Shelby Watson-Hampton is a freelance writer in southern Maryland.

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